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Monday, June 28, 2010

HCB: (Fallen) Rose Genoise

I think I am cursed.

After 2 consecutive weeks of failed buttercream, we have now entered the phase of failed cake.

I blame it on the weather.

I blame it on working overtime.

I blame it on my deteriorating brain cells.

Let's rewind.

Early Sunday afternoon, I made the beurre noisette, strained it, mixed in the vanilla, and set it aside. Whip the egg and sugar over simmering water until lukewarm. Then mixed it on the KA mixer on high for 5 minutes. Mix in the twice sifted cake flour cornstarch mixture. Whisked 1 cup of egg mixture with the beurre noisette. Sifted half the flour mixture over the egg, then sifted the rest of flour. Then fold in the beurre noisette mixture. Poured everything into the prepared bundt pan. I noticed that there are lots of air bubbles on the batter. I thought this maybe because I overwhisked when incorporating the egg into beurre noisette. I tried to pop the some of the air bubbles with a little needle, then baked the cake for 30 minutes.

Here's the result.

Determined to make a successful cake. And even though I had no idea what happened, I re-read the recipe twice and started over.

This time I mixed the beurre noisette and 1 cup of egg with a spatula, so as not to create too much air bubbles. But then the weirdest thing happened after I folded the beurre noisette into the egg. I see the air bubbles slowly emerging, and the batter deflating before my eyes. Wish I had a video to document what happened. I was sure the cake will failed, but I still bake it anyway.

Here's the result.

This is a fleur-de-lis bundt pan, and I can't even see the fleur-de-lis, sigh...

I dissected both genoise to see the inside, and both have the same problem. The lower half of the genoise has the texture and taste of a true genoise. The upper half is dense, has a weird texture, inedible, and are in the trash. So now I have 2 half genoise to eat.

Can you see the 2 different texture from the below picture?

I ran out of sugar, otherwise I would have started over, but with clarified butter instead.

I still have no clue what happened. Anyone has any ideas?

Added comments:
The genoise - whatever's edible of the 2 attempts :) - tastes delicious. It tastes so light so it was eaten very quickly. I do want to make this again, not only because I want to make it successfully, but also because it taste good. It will be a beautiful day in Jenn's Kitchen when she manages to make a successful genoise. Balloon will be flying, champagne opened, and lots of pictures!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

HCB: Gateau Breton

I was going to make the Coconut Cheesecake, but I couldn't find the sweetened flaked coconut and cream of coconut. So I decided to catch up on my baking and made Gateau Breton instead.

This is the easiest cake I've made so far from Rose's recipes. It is amazing how fast and easy it is to put together. It took the same amount of time to prepare this cake and to find a small bottle of dark rum, the latter is more frustrating. I went to one liquor store and all it has is the giant bottle (750 ml) of Myers rum. The next one has the same bottle. Finally, the 3rd store has the 375 ml of Myers rum.

During the whole rum searching adventure, I was tempted to forgo the whole dark rum and just use the regular Bacardi rum that I have in my pantry. But I thought it's about time I invested in some dark rum, ARRR!

As I've said, the cake is super easy to prepare. First you toast the almonds. Then grind in food processor with 1/4 of sugar and salt. Then cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks. Then add the almond sugar mixture. Finally, add the flour in 4 parts. Pour onto the pan. I refrigerated the batter for a few minutes as it was getting soft. This baked in 40 minutes and it made my kitchen smells HEAVENLY! I know this is considered a cake but it makes me think of pastry and I love love love the smell of baked pastry.

Tasting impression:
This is really really good. I loved Gateau Basque and was curious about the taste in comparison. The pastry side is similar, but Gateau Basque has pastry cream/cherry filling, whereas Gateau Breton is plain. I think I got a little too rum happy and put too much rum ^_^ (1 1/2 Tbps instead of 1 Tbps). It affected the flavor a bit, I can taste the rum. I suppose unlike with Grand Marnier - where I usually find it's good to add a little more than required, it's not good to put too much rum. It is still excellent though and hubby said that he'll enjoy every bite of it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

HCB: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

This is a story of failed frosting. Ok, you might look at the picture of the slice and thought that it look good. But wait until you see the picture of the cake.

The cake started off well enough. The cake batter came together easily. I even remembered to increase the milk for high altitude adjustment. For once the cake baked flat on top, and it looked oh so pretty.

I've made mousseline several times but this is the 1st time I use the RHC recipe. There are differences between the recipe in TCB and RHC. For one thing, the quantity of sugar and water is higher in TCB. Another difference is the method. In TCB, Rose tells you to add the creamed butter 1 Tbsp at a time to the meringue. In RHC, you actually add all the meringue into the butter.

While cooking the sugar in the water, I noticed something's wrong when the mixture starts boiling but the sugar never really dissolve. Is this because I split the recipe in half, so the already 3 Tbps of water is now 1 1/2 Tbp. Not a lot especially once you boil it, wouldn't some of those water evaporated?

Anyway, I made the meringue. And the started heating up the syrup again. When it reached the 240 degrees, it turned into this grainy, crystalized consistency. I continued anyway, and added it to the meringue.

By the time I added the whole batch of meringue into the butter and started whipped, it turned watery. Following Rose's instruction, I placed my bowl in the water bath. After a few minutes, checked the temperature, it said 66 degrees. And there's a puddle of water inside the bowl - of what used to be meringue.

Frustrated, I contemplated calling it quits for the day. My cake would just be bare and frosting-less.

But I really really want to make this cake. Plus I already have the blendered butter and strawberry mixture that taste so yummy (thanks Raymond).

Okay so I grab my copy of TCB. And started over with the mousseline. This time, it worked!

I put the cake together, with a nice layer of strawberry mousseline in between. The cake was so tender that some layers almost split in the middle. The good thing about making 1/2 recipe is that the layers are smaller and easier to handle.

Now onto chocolate frosting. I re-read the recipe and realized that I had forgotten to buy the unsweetened chocolate. Rummaging in the pantry, I found dark chocolate (not sure of the %), and I do have the 60% chocolate. I melted them together with the butter. Then added the light corn syrup. The mixture is not as flowing as I thought it should be. I pour it onto the cake, it dropped down one side, and it stopped there. I tried to use the spatula to spread it, but then it took the mousseline with it. Okay, I may be overzealous in that I put mousseline everywhere on the cake, but I thought it would be okay.

Frustrated and pissed. Not pissed at Rose but at myself. This is what happened when you don't follow Rose's instruction - I told myself.

So here's the sad looking cake. Hubby said that it looks cute with the chocolate glaze dripping on one side. I thought it was very sweet of him to say that, but I was still sad.

We shared the 1 cupcake with a generous dollop of strawberry mousseline, and it was really really good. That cheered me up a bit, :). I will say that I still want to make this recipe again and get the chocolate frosting right. Though I think I will stick with the mousseline recipe from TCB.

Monday, June 7, 2010

HCB: Chocolate Butter Cupcakes

I made the Chocolate Butter Cupcakes last year and was not very impressed with it.

The taste is really good, very chocolatey. The texture I don't like. It was dry and fragile and fell apart as I bite into it.

So this time, I thought I'd improvise a little bit. I set aside 20% of the sugar in the cupcakes, all other variables are the same, the 20% sugar I made into sugar syrup (added a little of grand marnier) and used it to syrup the cupcakes while it's cooling down.

For the buttercream, I thought of making something new. The burnt orange silk meringue buttercream. I skipped this buttercream last year when I made the pumpkin cake and I've made all the other buttercreams so it's time to make this one.

You are probably looking at the above picture and thinking, hm... that does not look like the burnt orange smbc. Well, it's because it isn't. The whole thing failed, catasthropicly.

First I made the orange concentrate from orange juice. Feeling rebellious and not wanting to follow Rose's instructions, I use a sauce pan on medium-high heat to reduce the OJ. Well okay, it's more because I don't like the idea of heating up OJ in a pyrex cup in the microwave. It might explode and then I have all the mess to clean up. Call me crazy, but that's what went through my head. Minutes went by and the OJ is reduced. I transfer it to a bowl and proceeded with the recipe.

Next step is the creme anglaise. I scald the milk, heat up the sugary water until amber, then pour the milk in. It bubbled furiously. I put the pan back on the stove and stir to get all the caramel goodness. Somehow some of the caramel crystalize at the bottom, so I continue stirring and stirring until they all dissolve. This is where I figured I did something wrong as by the time all those crystals are reduced, there liquid is pretty well reduced (mistake #1). Then I mix it into the egg yolk mixture, and heat the whole thing on the stove while stirring continuously. Rose said to keep stirring on low heat until it's close to boiling point and you see steam. This takes forever by the way and by the time it's done the creme anglais is pretty thick. By thick I mean as thick as honey. I think this might the mistake #2, I heat it up too long and it became too thick. Of course at that time I didn't think anything is wrong. I strain it onto a bowl and set it aside.

I proceeded by making the italian meringue. Nothing exciting to report here, everything went on smoothly.

Now onto putting everything together. Mix the butter on the mixer. I went to grab the creme anglais and they seem to have turned into a toffee caramel consistency. I tried to incorporate it into butter, to no avail. It still remained in big globs. I continued adding the italian meringue in it. I didn't think any miracle will happen by adding the meringue, but why not, I already made the meringue anyway. The caramel globs are still there. Okay, so I thought this can be a buttercream with toffee in it. I tried a tsp of it, it does has the toffee consistency, as in it sticks to my teeth, but without the yummy toffee flavor.

What to do... what to do..

Devastatingly I thought of throwing the whole thing away. But then my cupcake will become naked and sad looking without any decorative element. Starting over is not an option as I'm already behind schedule, and still have to cook.

So I strained the d***m thing. I couldn't help chucking as I was doing this because it was kinda funny to push buttercream through a strainer. I doubt anyone on the bake-a-long has done this before.

Buttercream strained, I tried a little bit and it's missing flavor indeed. So I added a couple of drops of the Boyajian Orange Oil and voila, it taste so much better. Very fragrant and very orangey.

Too tired to do fancy decorating, I used my small offset spatula to do swirls of buttercream on the cupcake.

So there you have it. My humble chocolate butter cupcakes with almost burnt orange silk meringue buttercream :).

Tasting impression: I'm glad I added some sugar syrup, as the buttercream is more moist now. The buttercream, however, did not have enough taste. Where did all the orange oil flavor went?!? Or maybe I didn't have enough of it. Hm.. I think I'll add some orange zest on the rest when I get home...